Claudia Hammond has put together an interesting column on BBC Future on the pink for girls, blue for boys idea, showing it’s all a bit more complicated than you think.
First the easy part:
Various studies have looked at colour preferences in different age groups. In the US most have found that babies and toddlers, whether male or female, are attracted to primary colours such as red and blue. Pink doesn’t feature high on the list, although it is more popular than brown and grey. Some studies of this age group have found blue is favoured, others red, but they rarely find any gender difference.
But there are even myths inside the myth:
But what about the idea that a century ago little boys were dressed in pink and pink for girls is only a recent fashion? It seems even that might be something of a myth too. Psychology writer Christian Jarrett describes in his new book Great Myths of the Brain, how an Italian psychologist Marco Del Giudice, who tried to find the origins of this idea, could find just four short magazine quotes, describing pink as the colour for boys. In two of these he believes that perhaps the blue and pink were accidentally swapped around. That seems unlikely to me, but when he searched a database of five million books printed in American or British English from 1800-2000 more convincing was the lack of any mentions of “pink for a boy”, even though from 1890 onwards there were increasing mentions of “pink for a girl”.